A Postmodern, Constructivist Pedagogy For Teaching Educational Psychology, Assisted by Computer Mediated Communications.

A paper presentation to the CSCL95' Conference, Bloomington, Indiana, 17-20 October, 1995

Lawrence W. Sherman, Professor,
School of Education and Allied Professions
Department of Educational Psychology AND
Center for Human Development, Learning, and Teaching

122 McGuffey Hall
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
(513) 529-6642
FAX: (513) 529-3646

Draft version 5/07/97


Student reactions/evaluations were associated with diverse pedagogical structures including Cooperative Learning (CL), Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) and Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) which were used to deliver graduate instruction in Educational Psychology. The approach was predicated on the assumption that students "authentically" construct knowledge from their experiences within a social context of peer influence. Reflective writing in the context of a public forum in which students were required to react to each other's writing engaged students in a process of critical thinking. They were required to maintain an electronic journal which consisted of weekly narratives (postings to a "netnews group") which consisted of reflections on classroom activities and related readings. Classroom activities included the use of a writing activity described as a Dyadic Essay Confrontation (DEC). Students were required to react to a randomlydetermined partner's reflections within one week after the initial reflection. A final narrative reflection was required to be submitted to the newsgroup detailing a summary analysis of the constructed knowledge they had determined was brought about through this process. Their reflections and reactions and summary/conclusions comprised a major product for inclusion in an electronic portfolio which was submitted at the end of the class. The techniques as well as how this complex structure was implemented , and, how students responded to the electronic medium are discussed. Using a rationale derived from the WAC community that stresses integration of the writing process across the curriculum, the conclusions focus on using CMC as an integral part of classroom instruction as well. A Postmodern and Constructivist theoretical orientation is used to explain the positive student responses to this complex of authentic instruction.

A Postmodern, Constructivist and Cooperative Pedagogical Strategy For Teaching Educational Psychology Assisted by Computer Mediated Communications

"I don't think any of us as individuals has the possibility of changing the system, but writing, I've found, has some effect in the world: it does the one thing I think it is possible to do, which is to influence people towards a change of heart, or a change in consciousness. And once that happens, then the system -- and the values it embodies -- begins to look different to you. You haven't necessarily changed anything about it, but it does become harder to muster up the same enthusiasm for being part of it..." (GG1 in Gablik, p. 47.)


. This paper integrates several contemporary issues which are focused on the teaching of educational psychology. The most important issues include 1) postmodern thought, 2) higher level thinking processes, 3) motivation as influenced by conceptual conflict and arousal, 4) cooperative learning (CL) and 5) integrating writing across the curriculum (WAC) through computer mediated communication (CMC).. Each of these issues is discussed and then integrated into a solution for teaching educational psychology courses.


Foremost among these issues is the idea that we exist in a time which has been variously described as "postmodern," (Feyerabend, 1975), "poststructuralist," and "postpositivist" (Goodman, 1983). Increasingly these three terms appear in a variety of disciplines ranging from the "fine arts," (Burnham, 1971), "philosophy" (Goodman, 1983), to developmental psychology (Brofenbrenner et al., 1986; Gardner, 1985, 1993) and Educational Research (Phillips, 1983). Hare-Mustin and Mareck's (1988) article is a good example of a thorough discussion about "postmodernism." They describe two postmodern philosophical schools of thought, Constructivism and Deconstructionism, as having the following attributes:

€1. challenge the idea of a single meaning of reality.

€2. accept randomness, incoherence, indeterminacy and paradox.

€3. skeptical about the positivist tradition in science and essentialist theories.

€4. meanings are historically situated and constructed and reconstructed through language.

Howard (1990) states:

All across the intellectual landscape, the forces of objectivism are yielding to the entreaties of constructivist thought. But it is rather surprising that even our notion of science has been radically altered by recent constructivist thought. Briefly objectivism believes in a free-standing reality, the truth about which can eventually be discovered. The constructivist assumes that all mental images are creations of people, and thus speak of an invented reality. Objectivists focus on the accuracy of their theories, whereas constructivists think of the utility of their models. Watzlawick (1984) claimed that the shift from objectivism to Constructivism involves a growing awareness that any so-called reality is--in the most immediate and concrete sense--the construction of those who believe they have discovered and investigated it. (p. 187)

Alan Ryan (1995) also comments on Postmodernism:

Postmodernism is a label that embraces multitudes, but two ideas especially relevant here are its skepticism about the amount of control that a writer exercises over his or her work, and a sharp sense of the fragility of personal identity. These interact, of course. The idea that each of us is a single Self consorts naturally with the idea that we tell stories, advance theories, and interact with others from one particular viewpoint. Skepticism about such a picture of our identities consorts naturally with the thought that we are at the mercy of the stories we tell, as much as they are at our mercy. It also consorts naturally with an inclination to emphasize just how accidental it is that we hold the views we do, live where we do, and have the loyalties we do. Ryan, 1995, p. 33).

One should note, however, that these discussions are not met without controversy and resistance (eg., see John Searle's, 1990 article, "The Storm Over the University"). Giroux's (1990, pp 9-13) paper concerning "postmodernism" also discusses an alternative view, "modernism," defended by Habermas (1987).

There may be what Bruner & Feldman (1986; Bruner, 1990; Bruner, 1996) described as"plural realities." I refer here to the problem of determining whether there is an objective reality out there to be discovered (the positivist, "realist" and "instrumentalist" schools of thought), or a subjective reality which we impose upon nature (a "constructionist," "relativist" school of thought). Other more philosophical perspectives on constructivist views of learning might include Prawat and Floden's (1994) article. Bohan (1990) has described a pedagogical strategy for teaching about the history of psychology which is based on "Social Constructionism." Bevin's (1991) essay discusses the need for new intellectual models in the social and behavioral sciences which draw upon the social construction of scientific outcomes which are an outgrowth of collaboration. Howard (1990) is another example concerned with pluralistic views. Phillip's (1983) paper on "Postpositivist Educational Thought," explains the many possible views which have surfaced to counter the original "logical positivist" view of the Wiener Kreis (Vienna Circle, circa 1920).

Ernst Cassirer (1955) has proposed that discourse creates (his term is "enacts") the world. Knowledge is not 'about' the world, but rather 'constitutive' of the world. Cassirer states:

Every authentic function of the human spirit has this decisive characteristic in common with cognition: it does not merely copy but rather embodies an original, formative power. It does not express passively the mere fact that something is present but contains an independent energy of the human spirit through which the simple presence of the phenomenon assumes a definite 'meaning,' a particular ideational content. (p. 78)

He continues, presenting a strong link between art, myth, language and cognition when he suggests that they are not "...different modes in which an independent reality manifests itself to the human spirit but roads by which the spirit proceeds toward its objectivization, ie., its self-revelation" (p. 78). Eisner (1981) has expressed similar ideas when differentiating the scientific from the artistic approach to qualitative research. Goodman (1983) describes himself as a "constructionist" and "relativist" and expresses quite similar thinking. There is a concordance between what Cassirer and Goodman are describing and Perry's (1970) fifth stage of cognitive development, the "relativism or contextual thinking stage."

Psychological Theories.

The many psychological theories presented in textbooks (e.g., Baldwin, 1980; Lerner, 1986; Miller, 1983; Salkind, 1985; Thomas, 1985) might be an example of "plural realities." An example of common usage of these texts is contained in Schadler's (1985) review of Thomas' (1985) text. During a typical 15-week semester a dozen or so theories might be encountered. Each class period may be devoted to a different psychological theory ranging from Ainsworth's to Vygotsky's 'interpretations of reality.' With so many differing views - plural realities - how does one integrate and synthesize all of this knowledge?

Conceptual Conflict.

A related issue is how does one critically contend with conceptual conflic and arousal (Berlyne,1957) and use it to ones advantage. Johnson (1979) has stated that one of the keys to successful teaching is the promotion of controversy (p. 359). Flavel (1963, p. 279) has stated:

"In the course of his contacts (and especially, his conflicts and arguments) with other children, the child increasingly finds himself forced to reexamine his own precepts and concepts in the light of those others, and by so doing, gradually rids himself of cognitive egocentrism."

This may be true of adults as well. John Stuart Mill has stated that "Since the general or prevailing opinion on any subject is rarely or never the whole truth, it is only by the collision of adverse opinion that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied" (in Johnson, 1979, p. 361). Johnson et al. (1986) have continued to emphasize the positive and creative role of cognitive conflict and disequilibrium as motivation for learning (Johnson &;Johnson, 1987; Johnson et al., 1991a &;1991b; Cooper, 1995). Recent research on social motivation reviewed by Geen (1991) would also suggest that a cooperative social setting would enhance arousal.


Berlin (1987), in his book, Rhetoric and Reality, describes three theories of rhetoric including the 1) objective, 2) subjective, and 3) transactional theories. The "transactional" theory of rhetoric is quite similar to the previous discussion of conceptual conflict. Transactional theory is also concerned with the postmodern issue of "plural realities." Berlin states:

Transactional rhetoric is based on an epistemology that sees truth as arising out of the interaction of the elements of the rhetorical situation: an interaction of subject and object or of subject and audience or even all the elements - subject, object, audience, and language -operating simultaneously. (p. 15)

One solution, then, to the problems of conceptual conflict and the integration of divergent viewpoints as found in the rich reserves of available psychological theories is through writing. The present author has been strongly influenced by several researchers interested in the writing process (Elbow, 1986 &;1987; Jones, 1987; Fulwiler, 1986; Fulwiler &;Young, 1982; Fulwiler &; Jones, 1982). During the Seventh Annual Lilly Conference on College Teaching Peter Elbow and Robert Jones made a forceful and convincing case for the integration of the writing process across various curricula. Effective writing as a means of communication is an important skill which should be one of the successful outcomes of a college education. Teaching this skill effectively, it is argued, can only be accomplished when it is encouraged in other disciplines outside of the Departments of English which have traditionally been assigned this responsibility. The discipline of psychology is aware of the need to incorporate writing into its teaching practices (see the special issue of Teaching of Psychology, 17(1), 1990, whose entire contents, nearly 16 articles, is devoted to the uses of writing in the psychology curriculum).

Elbow (1986) expresses a particularly post-modern view which is strongly related to Cassirer's (1955), Bruner's (Bruner &;Feldman, 1986) and Goodman's (1983) notions of plural realities and also associated with conceptual conflict:

This dilemma has led me more often than I realized to work things out in terms of contraries: to gravitate toward oppositions and even to exaggerate differences - while also tending to notice how both sides of the opposition must somehow be right. My instinct has thus made me seek ways to avoid the limitations of the single point of view. And it has led me to a common sense view that surely there cannot be only 'one' right way to learn and teach (p. x). Others (Greene &;Akerman, 1995) seem to agree with this position as well.

Computer Mediated Communication.

Past classroom writing projects traditionally have been a bidirectional transaction between individual students and their instructors: e.g.., a student submits a paper to an instructor who evaluates it andthen returns it to the student; students maintain a journal of their class-related experiences While collaborative peer evaluations are sometimes used, it is rarely possible for an entire class to read everyone's writing. With the advances of internet connectivity, computer mediated communication (CMC) has made possible a variety of mediums through which writing can be transacted to entire special interest communities: e.g., LISTSERVS, NETNEWS groups, Computer Bulletin Boards, MUDs. Narrative journals are a means by which one can construct meaning from experience through the medium of writing. Maintaining an electronic journal which is publicly available for inspection by one's peers who have had the same class-related experiences offers an opportunity for everyone to see each other's different perspectives. In this manner, a class becomes a community of diverse human resources.

Lewinian-oriented psychologists subscribe to the theory that human behavior is a result of the interaction of persons with their environments. This has lead to many speculations on "ACTION THEORY." An action theory examines the actions needed to achieve a desired consequence in a given situation. Johnson &;Johnson (1987) have stated that "when you generate an action theory from your own experiences and then continually modify it to improve its effectiveness, you are learning experientially (p. 16-17). Experiential learning has three effects: 1) cognitive structures are altered, 2) attitudes are modified and 3) behavioral skills are expanded, and this is a cyclical process. The Johnsons (1987) have presented 12 principles of experiential learning, of which the last four focus on the influence of environments on individuals, especially within the context of a social group. Membership in a group which is supportive and accepting will free a person to experiment with new behaviors, attitudes, and action theories. One such group might be a cooperative classroom structured for learning. The Johnsons (1979) have differentiated three types of classroom goal structures including 1) cooperative, 2) individually competitive, and 3) individualistic. These goal structures are primarily based on the notion of the presence or absence of positive interdependence among classroom members. One form of cooperative learning has been labeled "Collaborative Learning" and has been used extensively in the teaching of writing at the post-secondary level of education (Bruffee, 1993). While elements of collaborative learning are present in many cooperative pedagogical strategies, some have felt it necessary to make a distinction between collaborative and cooperative learning (Brody, 1995). Cooperative goal structures are in operation when two or more individuals are in a situation where the task-related efforts of individuals help others to be rewarded (positive interdependence). Group members behave in a positively interdependent fashion and are rewarded on the basis of the quality or quantity of the group product according to a fixed set of standards. Collaborative learning might fit into this category of goal structure. Sherman's (1990; Millis, Sherman &;Cottell, 1993) Dyadic Essay Confrontations (DEC) is considered to be an example of a cooperative technique which makes use of collaborative learning.

Giroux (1990, p. 35) has stated that "...critical educators need to provide a sense of how the most critical elements of modernism, postmodernism, and postmodern feminism might be taken up by teachers and educators so as to create a postmodern pedagogical practice." The present author has tried to adapt and apply relativistic and constructionist viewpoints by introducing conceptual conflict (disequilibrium) into the teaching of these classes. An additional concern has been to challenge and foster higher level cognitive processes (see Perry, 1970 as well as Bloom et al., 1971) by encouraging critical integration, synthesis, evaluation and analysis of knowledge. The pedagogical practices described below uses the medium of writing and cooperative discourse associated with computer mediated communication. In the spirit of "authentic instruction," (Newmann &;Wehlage, 1993), outcomes of this pedagogical strategy are believed to be: 1) increased higher-order thinking; 2) greater depth of knowledge; 3) more connectedness to the world beyond the classroom; 4) substantive conversation; and 5) greater social support for student achievement.



The students who have experienced the strategies described below were undergraduate and graduate education majors working on Bachelor's, Master's and Specialist's degrees in Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education, Family and Consumer Sciences, Educational Leadership and Educational and School Psychology. The EIGHT 3 credit hour classes examined in this report were taught throughout 15 week semesters or 5- to 6-week Summer School sessions. The n's for each class are reported in the results of the survey data in question number 1.


Dyadic Essay Confrontations(DEC).

The DEC technique described below focused on ten short essay writing experiences which were assigned throughout the semester. For further details and earlier reports on DEC see Sherman (1988 &;1990) as well as Millis, Sherman &;Cottell (1993). At regularly scheduled times each student had to write a brief essay question and a model answer primarily based on assigned readings and text material. Students were instructed that their questions should be comparative in nature and, as the class went in, earlier material and chapter content could and should be drawn upon. The questions should require some thought and not be trivial in the sense that one could construct an objective multiple choice test format with highly convergent answers. In addition to the regularly scheduled textbook chapters, several primary author reprints were distributed. Students were encouraged to integrate the content of these additional readings into both their questions and answers. Those who did integrate these materials into their questions and answers were rated higher by the instructor than those who merely stayed within the confines of the text or one single article. Both peer and instructor evaluation were also used. Five attributes including 1) General Impression, 2) Importance, 3) Clarity, 4) Integration, and 5) Creativity, were rated on a 0 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale. Evaluation of the quality of both the questions as well as the answers was a considerable portion (40%) of the course grade. The questions should have been neatly typed on two forms (templates) which were provided by the instructor. One copy contained only their question and had space available for someone else to answer. The person who answered the question in class identified themselves by signing the bottom of their sheet. The other copy had both the question and the expected answer on the bottom half of the page along with identification information as to who contributed the question. Greater importance was assigned to the prepared answer than the one which they wrote in class. Thus, a prepared question and answer was already committed to writing when students came toclass. In class they were randomly divided into triads (a deck of cards was used to randomize grouping) in which they exchanged their questions among themselves. They were then given 30 minutes to write their answers to someone else's question. Eachquestion had to be germane to the regularly scheduled topic in the syllabus/calendar of events. However, because such a wide breadth of information was available for selection, the specific content of a question was not predictable. Thus a certain amount of random indeterminance was the general rule for these activities. As Hare-Mustin &;Mareck (1988) state: "Postmodernism accepts randomness, incoherence, indeterminanacy,and paradox, which positivist paradigms are designed to exclude. Postmodernism creates distance from the seemingly fixed language of established meanings and fosters skepticism about the fixed nature of reality (p. 462)". What one student felt was important enough to integrate into their question, another student might have completely ignored. Students had to come to class prepared. This was an "open book" experience and all notes and related readings were available as resources in answering another's question. After completion of the inclass writing, each student had to confront the student who wrote the question. Since the answer was already previously prepared outside of class, a certain amount of commitment had already been made. Conceptual conflict or convergence was thus achieved in these dyadic meetings where each student usually came in contact with at least two other students. This was usually a time of lively discussion. After the dyadic meetings had taken place, the instructor distributed copies of all questions so that everyone could see what others believed was an important question to ask of the materials. The students than had to rate each others questions and answers. Whole class discussions then ensued where all students had an opportunity to engage in additional discourse about the questions/answers for that session. The instructor rated all questions and answers as well as contributed written comments outside of class and returned the materials to the students at their next regularly scheduled meeting. The Undergraduate classes did not receive the DEC treatment.

See an example of the DEC Process here!

Narrative CMC Journals.

Fulwiler (1982) has recommended the writing of journals. Bolling (1994) has discussed maintaining group journals as a means by which students may effectively "collaborate." Bolling suggests that "Journals establish a dialogue between student and instructor that is unhampered... " She goes on to suggest that this technique "...fosters trust and receptiveness ..." (p. 47) Individual journals are difficult to share among one's classroom peers. Group journals are at least shared among a small group. The students become resources for each other. My approach has been one of extending the notion of a group journal, to a series of journal entries which are constantly available to all class members. In this sense the entire class of students become resources for each other. This has been accomplished by utilizing CMC in the form of a "netnews group". Within the context of Miami University's computing environment we maintain an entity called "NETNEWS." This is a "USENET-like" environment where I established a newsgroup for each of my classes. Our graduate classes meet one evening per week. Students are required to make weekly postings, called "reflections," after each class meeting. Within one week after they have posted a "reflection" they are required to "react" to someone else's reflection. Throughout a 15 week semester, each student posts 12 reflections and 12 reactions. Reflections are made to several aspects of each weekly meeting including simulations, video tapes, whole class discussions, lectures, and a bi-weekly Dyadic Essay Confrontation ( DEC). They have assigned readings from textbook chapters as well as primary author articles. The DEC activity usually involves two other students, each of which is writing an answer to some one elses prepared questions, or reacting to someone else's answer to their own prepared question. The three DEC members are randomly determined each week. This determines the people whom they must "react" to in the following weeks netposting. Throughout a typical semester, then, each student reacts to many different people in the class. And, their reflections and reactions are available to all other class members. These activities require considerable interdependence and dialogue among class members and their instructor.

Dependent measures and analysis.

Newmann &;Wahlege (1993) have developed a survey instrument consisting of five items designed to tap students perceptions about authentic instruction. These five items request students to rate on a five-point (1 to 5) Likert-like scale their perceived class experiences. Perceptions with regard to 1) higher-order thinking [HOT], 2) depth of knowledge [DOK], 3) Connectedness to the world beyond the classroom [CTW], 4) substantive conversation [SC], and 5) social support for student achievement [SSA] are the primary focus of this survey. It was anonymously filled out on the last day of the class. Descriptive and comparative statistics are used to describe these results presently based upon 119 undergraduate and graduate students from eight classes. The survey results follow:



#1 DOES THIS CLASS ENCOURAGE HIGHER ORDER THINKING?: (low-order thinking 1 to 5 high-order thinking)

Class Mean SD F (7,111) p Overall Mean/ (SD)
ANOVA3.65.0014.08 (.84)
FALL 94(n=21) (EDP601) 4.38 0.50
SPRING 95(n=20)(EDP621) 3.90 0.79
SUMMER 95(n=18) (EDP601) 4.56 1.04
SPRING 96(n=7) (EDP650) 4.67 0.52
SUMMER 96(n=?) (EDP621) 3.25 0.89
SUMMER 96(n=?) (EDP301) 3.95 0.80
SPRING 96(n=?) (EDP201) 3.85 0.80
SPRING 96(n=?) (EDP 201 HONORS) 3.92 0.67

#2 HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE OBTAINED IN THIS CLASS? (knowledge is shallow 1 to 5 knowledge is deep)

Class Mean SD F (7,111) p Overall Mean/ (SD)
ANOVA2.39.0073.67 (.96)
FALL 94 (EDP601) 3.24 1.09
SPRING 95 (EDP621) 3.80 0.89
SUMMER 95 (EDP601) 4.17 0.99
SPRING 96 (EDP650) 4.50 0.55
SUMMER 96 (EDP621) 3.00 0.76
SUMMER 96 (EDP301) 3.62 1.02
SPRING 96 (EDP201) 3.54 0.66
SPRING 96 (EDP201 HONORS) 3.75 0.62


Class Mean SD F (7,111) p Overall Mean/ (SD)
ANOVA2.85.0094.19 (.79)
FALL 94 (EDP601) 4.09 0.89
SPRING 95 (EDP621) 4.10 0.85
SUMMER 95 (EDP601) 4.17 0.86
SPRING 96 (EDP650) 5.00 0.00
SUMMER 96 (EDP621) 3.38 0.92
SUMMER 96 (EDP301) 4.48 0.51
SPRING 96 (EDP201) 4.23 0.73
SPRING 96 (EDP201 HONORS) 4.17 0.58

#4 IS THERE SUBSTANTIVE CONVERSATION IN THIS CLASS: (no conversation 1 to 5 high-level conversation)

Class Mean SD F (7,111) p Overall Mean/ (SD)
ANOVA3.50.0023.90 (1.01)
FALL 94 (EDP601) 4.33 0.97
SPRING 95 (EDP621) 3.75 1.06
SUMMER 95 (EDP601) 3.78 0.94
SPRING 96 (EDP650) 4.83 0.41
SUMMER 96 (EDP621) 3.25 1.16
SUMMER 96 (EDP301) 4.09 0.88
SPRING 96 (EDP201) 3.15 0.80
SPRING 96 (EDP201 HONORS) 4.08 0.90

#5 IS THERE SOCIAL SUPPORT FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN THIS CLASS?: (negative social support 1 to 5 positive social support)

Class Mean SD F (7,111) p Overall Mean/ (SD)
ANOVA1.61.114.28 (.79)
FALL 94 (EDP601) 4.05 0.92
SPRING 95 (EDP621) 4.30 0.86
SUMMER 95 (EDP601) 4.28 0.67
SPRING 96 (EDP650) 5.00 0.00
SUMMER 96 (EDP621) 4.38 0.74
SUMMER 96 (EDP301) 4.48 0.68
SPRING 96 (EDP201) 3.92 0.86
SPRING 96 (EDP201 HONORS) 4.25 0.75


Overall it is believed that the 5-item authentic instruction survey revealed a favorable reception to the various writing elements which were utilized in these classes. The most positive perceptions were associated with higher order thinking (HOT), student supportfor achievement (SSA) and connectedness to the world beyond the classroom (CTW). While substantive conversation (SC) and depth of knowledge (DOK) were rated lower, these two perceptions are still substantially high ratings. One might also note that given the sequential order of these class offerings, HOT and DOK do demonstrate statistically significant growth (improvement) from one offering to another. There was no statistically significant differences among the three class offerings for CTW, SC nor SSA.

The significance of the dyad as the simplest and most important sociological formation described as a "group" has been extensively discussed by Simmel (1965) and others. Pedagogical applications of the empirical findings from group dynamics studies of dyads is sparse. However, teaching through the use of dyadic peer pairings is presently gaining a renewed interest from instructors and social psychological researchers alike (Goldschmid, 1971; Schirmerhorn et al., 1975; Larson &;Dansereau, 1986; Dansereau 1987; van Oudenhoven et al., 1987a &;1987b; Fantuzzo et al., 1989; Sherman, 1990). Frederick (1981 &;1986) has described the usefulness of dyads in stimulating classroom dialogue in college history classes. The dyad is one of the most central structures of the Johnsons' (1987) latest pedagogical strategy, "Creative Conflict". For a more thorough discussion of cooperative classroom writing in "collaborative" and "Peer Response" groups, Dipardo &;Freedman's (1988) recent article as well as Gere (1987) provide a great wealth of information and clarification. Recently, at the Fourth Convention of the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education, Hertz-Lazarowitz et al., (1988) and Telles (1988) presented newly innovated dyadic techniques for teaching. While DEC is not the same as these other approaches, the focus on dyads in the teaching/learning process is an important point of convergence. As Hertz-Lazarowitz et al. (1988) have pointed out, dyadic teaching has had a long and distinguished history of successful use among Talmudic scholars for nearly 2000 years. Hertz-Lazarowitz's et al. (1988) technique is based on a hierarchial arrangement of tutor/tutee pairings in which both members of the dyad reverse roles at one time or another while imparting knowledge to each other. Telles (1988) technique issimilar to Aronson's (1978) "jigsaw" technique with the addition of concentrated dyadic interactions among "expert group" members. These examples are based on a rationale of "cognitive rehearsal" and assume convergence of thought and an external objectivity which is to be learned. DEC, however, is based on postmodern thought including the concepts associated with transactional theories of rhetoric, cognitive elaboration and arousal, paradox, divergence and plural realities. DEC, as presented in this manuscript, is a continuation of the author's earlier and continuing concerns for promoting learning through small group discussions (Sherman, 1976, 1977 &;1986; Millis, Sherman &;Cottell, 1993).

The classes receiving this type of strategy generally felt that it was highly beneficial to their learning of both the content of the class and about each other's perceptions of that content. While a six-item, objectively administered and university sanctioned "course/professor/evaluation" instrument was administered to all sections, the individual items were not as informative as the anecdotal comments which were volunteered. Most of the written comments contributed by students reflected a highly positive acceptance of the writing experience. Above all, the experience was highly motivating, stimulating much more intense study of the text and related reading materials. These findings are quite similar to those reported by McKeachie (1990a, pp., 191-194) in his review of research on college teaching focused on "student-centered discussion." His (McKeachie, 1990b) further comments concerning the "...importance of trying to find out what is in the mind of the learner," (p. 139) are also highly relevant. Confronting their peers in the class motivated students to study and think about the materials in more depth. It has been suggested that this technique also promoted "critical reading" as much as writing skills. Students believed that it helped them understand the theories better, and expanded their perception of the importance, application, and interpretation of these theories. This was especially so when interpreting theories which appeared to result in the greatest differential perceptions (e.g., where cognitive conflict was most apparent). One of the most common remarks overheard in class confrontation/dialogue was "I never 'thought' of that!" or "While I thought this was the 'right' answer, I can certainly see what you were focusing on."

Thus, in general, it is believed that these strategies are favorably accepted by students. From the instructor's perspective, the students progressively become more sophisticated as the semester continues, with the best, most integrated questions and answers and reflections/reactions appearing at the end of the class. The conceptual ideas upon which the questions and answers are based cover a broad sampling of topics associated with the various theories, almost as comprehensive as what might be traditionally included in objective multiple-choice tests. Many students expressed the view that they felt much more critically and analytically competent at the end of the class than they did at the beginning. Thus, it is felt that not only did the students experience postmodern teaching techniques, but may have also gained an appreciation and developed toward a more relativistic stage of conceptual thinking (Perry, 1970). They also gained considerable skills in using CMC.

Two additional comments appear relevant. Many contemporary developmental theorists are emphasizing the importance of "postmodern" thinking (e.g., Bronfenbrenner et al., 1986) as well as the development of postmodern pedagogical practices (Giroux, 1990). These strategies are, in spirit, a modest attempt at satisfying these needs. The second point concerns the contemporary movement to encourage more use of technology as well as writing experience across the curriculum (Michalak, 1989). Three of this author's English department colleagues who have been highly active in promoting writing activities across curricula and have read this manuscript. One important comment which all three volunteered was the importance of disseminating reports such as this to disciplines other than audiences whose concern is already "writing": eg., the National Council of Teachers of English. In other words, "don't preach to the choir."

While the strategies described in this essay obviously take up more instructor time in reading, responding and evaluating, it is believed that the gains in student writing abilities and critical thinking (rhetoric), and the motivating stimulation of the class discussions are worth the efforts. The special issue of Teaching of Psychology (Nodine, 1990) which is devoted entirely to "Psychologists Teach Writing," has several articles expressing similar sentiments. However, it should be noted that virtually all of the articles contained in that issue focus on individual student writing projects, rather than cooperative or collaborative classroom pedagogical strategies. The only article weakly linking a peer-tutor cooperative strategy was Levine's (1990). While some of the authors acknowledge the dialogue which traditionally takes place between instructor and student, none of the articles recognize the peer interactive models available in cooperative learning. Five years later in the February, 1995 special issue of Teaching of Psychology (Volume 22, Number 1) devoted to "Psychologists Teach Critical Thinking," nearly 60% of the articles mention some form of cooperative learning, however, only one of the articles utilizes computer based technologies (Wolfe, 1995). Thus, increasing use of writing appears to be happening, but inclusion of computer-based technologies, especially in the form of CMC, does not seem to be as prevalent. Lastly, while the rich variety of psychology theories associated with the field of educational psychology is eminently suited to this technique, it is believed that many other disciplines which likewise abound in diverse theory could benefit from this approach.


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